Chittenden County Senate candidates take part in a roundtable discussion

BURLINGTON — Five candidates for state Senate faced-off in a forum Monday evening in the Channel 17 studios, and voters got to hear distinctly different plans for Vermont from both the left and right.

One fresh face was independent candidate Louis Meyers. He’s a doctor who says he is running for office because there are no physicians currently in the Legislature. He repeatedly stressed that the state is moving towards an “all-payer” health care model that will need guidance from people on the inside.

Another new face was Libertarian Party candidate Loyal Ploof. He laid out details of his party’s platform by calling to abolish the income tax and limit government involvement in individuals’ lives. He also spoke in favor of defending the Second Amendment.

Touting a similar message was Republican Dana Maxfield, who took a conservative approach on issues such as the economy, deregulation, Second Amendment and personal liberties.

The incumbents at the table were Democrat Michael Sirotkin and Democrat/Progressive Chris Pearson. The two spoke in favor of raising the minimum wage, requiring paid-leave for workers, passing universal health care and protecting the environment.

On the issue of health care, Pearson and Sirotkin generally favored a more centralized and socialized system, whereas Ploof and Maxfield wanted less government involvement, more choice, and fewer mandates.

“We need more options and that should bring the price down,” Ploof said. “I have a friend of mine who lives in another state, he’s got the greatest insurance, chiropractic, everything. He chose his insurance, The government didn’t say, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta have insurance and this is your insurance.'”

Meyers and Sirotkin both were critical of the powerful position that UVM Medical Center has the overall health services in the state. Sirotkin noted pay disparity between UVM and independent doctors.

“We do have to right-size the players,” he said. “I’m on the Finance Committee and one of the things we’ve learned is … there are two sets of reimbursement rates from Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP. One is for the medical center hospital and the other is for everybody else.”

Meyers explained why all-payer model may not be a great idea. This would entail health care providers getting an annual lump-sum of money, instead of getting paid through the traditional “fee for service” approach. The hope is that doctors would be incentivized to promote preventive care and keep patients out of the hospital as much as possible. Meyers said this concept can work small scale, but not so much big scale.

“It’s going to be an all-encompassing plan that’s going to affect everyone in this state,” he said. “As the national studies are starting to come out, they are not favorable to this kind of plan. “Two studies recently in the New England Journal [of Medicine] suggests that these are at best break-even and at worst can cost a tremendous amount of money. There are other much simpler options that we could have gone to and perhaps still could.”

On gun rights, Ploof and Maxfield criticized S.55, the state’s new gun law that limits magazine capacity, expands background checks to private sales, raises the gun purchase age, and more. Meyers, Pearson, and Sirotkin were all either involved in its passage or generally supportive.

Pearson praised the portion of the law that gives increased leverage to law enforcement to act if an individual is showing aggression that might indicate a shooting is about to occur.

“Prior to that law, if you had a neighbor who was being very vocal about frustration with the school or maybe even on Front Porch Forum, saying how terrible the school was, and then you saw them loading firearms into their truck the next day through your front window, there was nothing you could do because those were legally possessed,” Pearson said. “Now you have the ability … to call law enforcement and they can intervene.”

Maxfield, who said his son has just started sixth grade, did not believe that the law does anything to make his child safer in school

“I think if we were serious about trying to protect the children as opposed to just limit firearms, which seems to be what the real motive behind S.55 was,” he said, “[I think we would ask] what can we do at the school? What can we do with education involving firearms? What can we do with mental health?”

All the candidates generally agreed that small businesses need an easier way to grow in Vermont. Sirotkin praised an effort by Pearson this last session to streamline the start-up process with the state.

“90 percent of our businesses in the state of Vermont have 20 or fewer employees,” he said. “We need to focus on helping those businesses, and Senator Pearson put a bill forward this year where we are gonna have one-stop shopping for small businesses to incorporate, to get started.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Flickr/Alan Levine
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5 thoughts on “Chittenden County Senate candidates take part in a roundtable discussion

  1. Take a min. to read this statement by Pearson again. Senator Pearson is a very dangerous person and should not be put in a position of responsibility, particularly anywhere it affects Vermonters.

    Think about this scenario; you write in a concern in Front Porch (as an example) about the local school and a “citizen” sees you the next day loading guns into you truck and it is perfectly alright and encouraged to call the “authorities” to intervene. Really? By the way Senator’s Ingram, Baruth and Ashe think very similarly. They need to be voted OUT!

    How soon we forget about Nazi Germany. If you didn’t like your neighbor, or someone else you made a call to the “authorities” and in many cases your neighbor was never seen again. This is what the Progressive movement is all about. PEOPLE CONTROL. They are all smarter than we are and we need to be protected from ourselves. Sad and sick!!!

    Here it is again, copied form TN article above:

    Pearson praised the portion of the law that gives increased leverage to law enforcement to act if an individual is showing aggression that might indicate a shooting is about to occur.

    “Prior to that law, if you had a neighbor who was being very vocal about frustration with the school or maybe even on Front Porch Forum, saying how terrible the school was, and then you saw them loading firearms into their truck the next day through your front window, there was nothing you could do because those were legally possessed,” Pearson said. “Now you have the ability … to call law enforcement and they can intervene.”

    Voters are our own worst enemy as we keep voting these same miscreants into office. Remember this on November 6th.

  2. The only good thing within this debate is that it shows ” Progressive DemocRATs ” are
    the only voice we have…….shameful.

    Let stir things up and send these Progressive fools packing, Vermont Deserves Better.

  3. Great that you post these on line. I will say that it appears all the conversation is shifted to what the DNC platform is, there isn’t much of a waiver in almost every interview and questionnaire we’ve seen or received.

    We find this very interesting and troubling.

    Our research is that Vermonters have for some time now 3 white elephants that Montpelier continues to ignore or kick down the road.

    Affordability, School Funding and Drugs.

    It’s a bit too convenient and couldn’t possibly be a coincidence that EVERY source is asking the same questions. Waterbury Record is the stand out in asking us some different questions.

    Our point is money, lobbyists and PACs are steering the conversations. They say you can tell a tree by it’s fruit. Thorn bushes don’t grow McIntosh Apples. We reap what we sow.

    We haven’t been affordable, despite having he highest minimum wage in the nation for decades. Our school funding the same. We didn’t have a drug problem, now we lead the nation in addicted births.

    We need new people in Montpelier, many people talk a very good game, being a sophisticated speaker is not necessarily a compliment or desirable character.

    Doing the same thing won’t bring us any change.

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